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    Brand-name patent losses raise pharma cost concerns


    Several noteworthy, brand-name drugs targeting various therapeutic categories are slated to lose their patent protection this year.

    Among those drugs losing patent protection this year are some in the heart disease category including Crestor (AstraZeneca), Benicar (Daiichi Sankyo), and Zetia (Merck); Seroquel XR (AstraZeneca) for the acute treatment of depressive episodes associated with acute, manic, and mixed episodes of bipolar disorder; as well as four HIV drugs including GlaxoSmithKline’s and ViiV Healthcare’s Epzicom and Trizivir and Abbott Laboratories’ Norvir and Kaletra.

    In addition, in December, FDA approved the first generic version of cancer drug Gleevec, from Novartis.

    With a number of high-volume ‘traditional’ brands coming off-patent, there is some concern that it will now become much more challenging in coming years for plan sponsors to combat rising specialty drug costs.


    “This is an area of significant concern for our organization,” says Eric Cannon, PharmD, FAMCP, AVP, pharmacy benefit services at SelectHealth. “In 2015, we saw higher prescription drug costs and trends than we have seen previously. Pharmacy cost was the single biggest driver of healthcare expense in 2015.”

    Currently, according to Cannon, SelectHealth has almost 90% generic use by our members. “However, 87% of the total increase in pharmacy spending in 2015 was due to specialty drugs. As a result, newly released generic medications will have little impact on our overall spend,” he says.

    Next: More concerns



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